How to Select the Right Trucker School near Jackson Alabama
Congratulations on your decision to become a truck driver and enroll in a truck driving school near Jackson AL. Maybe it has always been your ambition to hit the open highway while operating a monster tractor trailer. Or perhaps you have conducted some analysis and have discovered that a career as a truck driver offers good wages and flexible work opportunities. Whatever your reason is, it’s imperative to get the appropriate training by picking the right CDL school in your area. When reviewing your options, there are various factors that you’ll want to consider before making your ultimate choice. Location will certainly be an issue, particularly if you need to commute from your Jackson residence. The cost will also be of importance, but picking a school based only on price is not the optimal method to make sure you’ll obtain the right training. Just remember, your goal is to master the knowledge and skills that will allow you to pass the CDL exams and become a professional truck driver. So keeping that goal in mind, just how do you choose a truck driving school? The answer to that question is what we are going to address in the balance of this article. But first, we are going to review a little bit about which commercial driver’s license you will eventually need.
Which CDL Should You Get?
In order to drive commercial vehicles legally within the USA and Jackson AL, an operator needs to obtain a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License). The 3 license classes that a driver can qualify for are Class A, Class B and Class C. Given that the topic of this article is how to select a truck driver school, we will address Class A and B licenses. What distinguishes each class of CDL is the type of vehicle that the driver can operate as well as the GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) or GCWR (Gross Combination Weight Rating). Below are short descriptions for the two classes.
Class A CDL. A Class A Commercial Drivers License is needed to drive any vehicle that has a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs., including a towed vehicle of more than 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that operators may be able to drive with Class A licenses are:
- Interstate or Intrastate Tractor Trailers
- Trucks with Double or Triple Trailers
- Tanker Trucks
- Livestock Carriers
- Class B and Class C Vehicles
Class B CDL. A Class B CDL is required to operate single vehicles having a GVWR of more than 26,000 lbs., or a GCWR of more than 26,000 lbs. including a towed vehicle weighing up to 10,000 lbs. Some of the vehicles that operators may be qualified to drive with Class B licenses are:
- Tractor Trailers
- Dump Trucks
- Cement Mixers
- Large Buses
- Class C Vehicles
Both Class A and Class B Commercial Drivers Licenses may also need endorsements to drive specific kinds of vehicles, for example passenger or school buses. And a Class A licensee, with the appropriate required endorsements, can operate any vehicle that a Class B license holder is authorized to operate.
How to Assess a Trucking School
As soon as you have decided which CDL you want to pursue, you can begin the undertaking of evaluating the Jackson AL truck driving schools that you are considering. As earlier discussed, location and cost will no doubt be your primary considerations. But it can’t be stressed enough that they should not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for instance the reputations of the schools or the experience of the instructors are equally or even more important. So below are several more factors that you should research while conducting your due diligence prior to selecting, and particularly paying for, your truck driving training.
Are the Schools Accredited or Certified ? Not many truck driver schools in the Jackson AL area are accredited due to the stringent process and cost to the schools. However, certification is more prevalent and is provided by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Interested students recognize that the training will be of the highest quality, and that they will receive plenty of driving time. For example, PTDI requires 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school’s program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the curriculum and training will fulfill the very high standards set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help assess the quality of a truck driver school is how long it has been in business. A negatively reviewed or a fly by night school normally will not stay in business very long, so longevity is a plus. Having said that, even the best of Jackson AL schools had to begin from their opening day of training, so consider it as one of several qualifiers. You can also find out what the school’s track record is regarding successful licensing and job placement of its graduating students. If a school won’t provide those stats, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with local and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to a superior reputation within the industry, but also boosts their job assistance program for graduates. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with the Alabama licensing department to make sure that the CDL trucking schools you are researching are in good standing.
How Good is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Alabama and employ teachers that are trained and experienced. We will cover more about the instructors in the next segment. Also, the student to instructor proportion should be no greater than 4 to 1. If it’s any higher, then students will not be receiving the personalized attention they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And be critical of any school that insists it can train you to be a truck driver in a relatively short time frame. Learning to be a truck driver and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Jackson AL schools provide training courses that run from 3 weeks to as long as two months, based on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Good are the Instructors? As previously stated, it’s imperative that the teachers are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both instructors and drivers. Although a number of states have minimum driving time criteria to qualify as an instructor, the more professional driving experience a teacher has the better. It’s also crucial that the teachers stay current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Assessing instructors may be a bit more subjective than other standards, and possibly the best approach is to pay a visit to the school and speak with the teachers face to face. You can also speak with a few of the students completing the training and ask if they are satisfied with the level of instruction and the teacher’s ability to train them.
Adequate Driving Time? Most importantly, a good trucking school will furnish sufficient driving time to its students. Besides, isn’t that what it’s all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of ride-a-longs with other students and simulators are important training methods, they are no substitute for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver he or she will be. And even though driving time varies among schools, a reasonable standard is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will furnish at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Jackson AL schools you are considering and ask how much driving time they provide.
Are they Captive or Independent ? You can obtain discounted or even free training from a number of truck driver schools if you enter into an agreement to drive for a specific carrier for a defined amount of time. This is referred to as contract training, and the schools that provide it are called captives. So instead of maintaining associations with many different trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The tradeoff is receiving less expensive or even free training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you have an opportunity. Naturally contract training has the potential to reduce your income opportunities when starting out. But for many it may be the best way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to inquire if the Jackson AL schools you are considering are independent or captive so that you can make an informed decision.
Offer Onsite CDL Testing? There are some states that will allow third party CDL testing onsite of trucking schools for its students. If onsite testing is available in Alabama, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to provide it. One advantage is that it is more convenient than competing with graduates from competing schools for test times at Alabama testing centers. It is moreover an indication that the DMV regards the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Class Times Flexible? As previously mentioned, truck driver training is only about one to two months long. With such a short duration, it’s important that the Jackson AL school you select provides flexibility for both the scheduling of classes and the curriculum. As an example, if you’re having difficulty learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be willing to dedicate more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you’re still holding a job while going to training, then the class scheduling needs to be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other obligations.
Is Job Placement Offered? Once you have attained your commercial driver’s license after graduating from truck driving school, you will be eager to begin your new career. Make sure that the schools you are considering have job assistance programs. Find out what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, find out which local and national trucking firms their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a poor job placement rate or few Jackson AL employers hiring their graduates, it might be a sign to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Assistance Available? Truck driving schools are comparable to colleges and other Jackson AL area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being available. Find out if the schools you are assessing have a financial aid department, or at a minimum someone who can help you navigate the options and forms that must be submitted.
Thinking of a Truck Drivier School near Jackson AL?
If you are considering enrolling in a CDL Training School in the Jackson Alabama area, following is some interesting and perhaps useful information about the location of your new school campus.
Al Jackson Jr.
Albert J. Jackson Jr. (November 27, 1935 – October 1, 1975) was an American drummer, producer, and songwriter. He was a founding member of Booker T. & the M.G.'s, a group of session musicians who worked for Stax Records and produced their own instrumentals. Jackson was affectionately dubbed "The Human Timekeeper" for his drumming ability. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2015.
Jackson's father, Al Jackson Sr., led a jazz/swing dance band in Memphis, Tennessee. The young Jackson started drumming at an early age and began playing on stage with his father's band in 1940, at the age of five. He later played in producer and trumpeter Willie Mitchell's band and at the same time was holding down a chair in the popular Ben Branch Band.
Future bandmates Steve Cropper and Donald "Duck" Dunn first heard Jackson playing in Mitchell's band at the Flamingo Room, and the all-white Manhattan Club. Mitchell had also hired Booker T. Jones for his band. It was Jones who suggested Jackson be brought to Stax. He said, "You guys need to know about Al." Dunn said that Jackson almost caused his wife to divorce him, because after finishing his own gig at one o'clock, he would stop by a club to hear Jackson and would get home at four or five in the morning; "He was that good!" said Dunn. At first, Jackson was reluctant to join Stax. He felt he could make more money playing live than doing session work. He wanted a guaranteed regular salary to come over to Stax (although he continued to play on sessions produced by Mitchell for Hi Records). And so he became the first Stax session musician to be on a weekly salary.
Cost Of CDL Training Jackson AL
Choosing the ideal truck driver school is an important first step to beginning your new profession as a long distance or local truck driver. The skills that you will learn at school will be those that mold a new career behind the wheel. There are many options offered and understanding them is vital to a new driver’s success. You originally came to our website because of your interest in Cost Of CDL Training. However, you must get the appropriate training in order to drive a large commercial vehicle in a safe and professional fashion. If you are lacking cash or financing, you might need to think about a captive school. You will pay a lower or even no tuition in exchange for driving for their contracted carrier. Or you can choose an independent trucker school and have the the freedom to drive for the trucking firm of your choosing, or one of several affiliated with the school. It’s your choice. But regardless of how you get your training, you will in the near future be part of an industry that helps America move as a professional trucker in Jackson AL.
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